Author, BEN PASTOR, lived for thirty years in the United States, working as a university professor, before returning to Italy to write historical thrillers. Bitter Lemon Press have published six of her novels to date.
Where were you born, and where did you grow up? I was born in Rome, and grew up in the hill country southeast of the city. Ten elements typified our small town: Roman ruins; rainy springs; olive groves; sparkling red wine; farm women dressing in beautiful traditional garb on holidays; the Thursday fair; more steps than streets (a problem and a good exercise for my family doctor father); a tall church steeple from where you could glimpse the sea in the far distance; cats, dogs, and farm animals of all kinds; the feeling that the world was orderly, cyclical, and safe.
What sorts of books were in your family home? All sorts (except pornography) and too many to count. As children, my sister Simona and I used to read avidly, and then have a picnic on top of the tall bookshelves of the family library. Years later, we found mummified little pieces of sandwiches behind the furniture when we moved out. Mother had a passion for nineteenth-and-twentieth-century literature: the great French, English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, American authors . . . Father loved geography, history and mysteries; all of us had a fondness for poetry and art. From The Epic of Gilgamesh to Nicholas Nickleby, from Blood and Sand to Dead Souls, the steps to culture and to our picnic place were all there!Continue reading Interview | Ben Pastor, novelist | Author of the Week
Are (were) your parents great readers? Tell us a bit about yourself. My mother read novels considered important in America of her era. She wanted to be an actress, and one of my earliest memories is of hearing her perform as a singer. She had a remarkable voice. My father used to read us Civil War history at bedtime. He was not literary, but his parents’ ancestors included “the first American poet”, Anne Bradstreet.Continue reading Interview | Chip Martin, Starhaven Press | Indie Publisher of the Week
“Too poetical that about the sad. Music did that. Music hath charms. Shakespeare said. Quotations every day in the year. To be or not to be. Wisdom while you wait.” – James Joyce
“What is modernism?” was one of the questions addressed during the recent BookBlast 10×10 Tour talk held in Waterstones, Norwich, featuring Galley Beggar Press authors Alex Pheby (hailed as “the new Beckett” by Stephen Bumphrey on BBC Radio Norfolk), Paul Stanbridge and Paul Ewen.
“Modernism consists of fragments put back together to make a whole out of disunity,” was one answer, “Being aware of the text and stepping outside it,” was another . . . along with stream of consciousness, multiple points of view, dense allusions, ambiguity and a phenomenal play of words on the page.Continue reading Review | Dedalus, Chris McCabe | Book of the Week
Meet Ian Duhig in person at the 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Leeds 6.30 p.m. Thurs 20 SEPT. Theme: Birmingham & Leeds: A Tale of Two Cities. With Ra Page COMMA PRESS chair, authors C.D. Rose (The Book of Birmingham) and Ian Duhig (The Book of Leeds). Book Tickets
Where were you born, and where did you grow up? London, the eighth of my parents but the first not born in Ireland, so I grew up in the London-Irish community of Paddington.
What sorts of books were in your family home? Not many books but my mother knew a lot of poetry by heart as that’s how they learned it in Ireland in her youth; this with all her songs were very important to me.
Who were early formative influences as a writer? I liked poetry at school but when I worked in Belfast in a hostel for young offenders before the Good Friday Agreement, discovering the Northern Irish poets like Heaney, Longley, Mahon, Muldoon, McGuckiand and more recently Sinead Morrissey was electrifying.Continue reading Interview | Ian Duhig, author & poet
Written in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum when the UK voted to leave the EU, Robinson is essential and entertaining reading. By the end of the 19th century there were over 700 spin-off versions of Robinson Crusoe: the novel is brilliantly and succinctly revisited by Charles Boyle a.k.a. Jack Robinson in a modern-day setting.
Random thoughts from an offshore island
“James Joyce considered Robinson’s grandfather to be ‘the true prototype of the English colonist . . . The whole Anglo Saxon spirit is in Crusoe: the manly independence; the unconscious cruelty; the persistence; the slow yet efficient intelligence; the sexual apathy; the practical, well-balanced religiousness; the calculating taciturnity.’ Crusoe – the eponymous hero of the book by Daniel Defoe that is often considered to be the first English novel.”Continue reading Review | Robinson and An Overcoat, both by Jack Robinson a.k.a. Charles Boyle
The BookBlast® celebration of independent publishing was kicked off in 2016 via online journal The BookBlast® Diary, idea being to showcase daring, risk-taking small publishers who fill a unique niche discovering talent, publishing authentic and offbeat books which add value to the cultural landscape.
We are now going offline and into the 9 regions of England this Autumn with THE BOOKBLAST® 10×10 TOUR 2018 in association with Waterstones.
Why not show your support for small independent publishers, writers and translators? Please spread the word and support our KICKSTARTER campaign: you can pledge, enjoy and spread the word HERE…
Come to the first tour event on 11 September at 6.30pm in Waterstones, Gower Street, or to one of the 9 regional talks! We have lots of goodies and tickets to #giveaway so visit us and let everyone know how much you love to support #crowdfunding great new writing and ideas.
The BookBlast® 10×10 Tour is about extraordinary writing inspiring readers to explore what’s happening in the world now. Audiences will encounter writers from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, up-and-coming British talent.
Waterstones may be a nationwide chain, but is clearly awake to the potential of small independent publishers and showcasing them to a high-street audience.
The tour connects London and the regions and showcases some of the finest independent-spirited literature and poetry being published today.
I look forward to seeing you all on the campaign trail and at a 10×10 Tour event in the Autumn. Ciao for now! G@BB
This month’s top 10 reads take in calypso and a debut children’s book by Junot Díaz; Europe and the Middle East; murder most foul in the Australian Outback; tales of survival and hope; and life on the road.
Listing in alphabetical order according to publisher @carcanet @commapress @elandpublishing @gingkolibrary @hauspublishing @oneworldnews @peirenepress @peepaltreepress @pushkinpress
The Ink Trade: Selected Journalism 1961-1993 by Anthony Burgess. Edited by Will Carr (Carcanet) buy here
“The general public does not care much for genius. Originality is dangerous, so is the naked truth . . . How can you explain to the great public that one of the most important things in the world is to invent a new way of saying things? But nobody cares about style, language, the power of the word. They prefer to hear about failure really being success, about a great writer killing himself at the early age (my age) of 62.” ― Anthony Burgess
Best known for his novel, A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess was born in Manchester in 1917. A novelist, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic, he wrote over 60 books of fiction, non-fiction and autobiography, as well as classical music, plays, film scripts, essays and articles. Burgess contributed to newspapers and periodicals around the world, among them the Observer, the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times,Playboy, and Le Monde. During his lifetime, he published two substantial collections of journalism, Urgent Copy (1968) and Homage toQwert Yuiop (1986); a posthumous collection of occasional essays, One Man’s Chorus, was published in 1998.Continue reading BookBlasts® | Top 10 Reads for Independent Minds | June 2018
Did you want to work in the publishing industry from the start? No, I only started my career in publishing twenty years ago; previously I spent most of the time in the film industry.
Has your vision from when you started HopeRoad 7 years ago changed? No, in that I still want to continue to publish authors and writings from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. It’s a big, rich vision that will last my lifetime.
How do you balance originality and profitability? Our remit is to publish books of quality – to add a third word – that would otherwise not see the light of day. Profitability is something one can depend on when selling shoes, for instance – but book sales are mainly a gamble. Perhaps most publishers would agree with this! However, I believe in every single title we publish and gain great satisfaction from seeing these books in print and also from working with talented writers. We are still looking forward to that “big win”, but in the meantime, with occasional help from Arts Council England, along with grants for our translations, we are able to keep going, and to keep our standards high.
Where were you born, and where did you grow up? I was born in Nottingham, as were my parents, but I grew up in Southern Nigeria. When we came back to the UK we moved around a bit before settling in Essex. I stayed there until I had my children.
What sorts of books were in your family home? There was a real spread of genres. My sister read historical fiction, lots of it, we were always battling for space on our joint bookshelves. My Dad liked humour and detective fiction, the Father Brown Stories, Simenon’s Maigret, and Jeeves and Wooster. There were also quite a lot of autobiographies in the house, I’m not sure who brought them, probably mum, but we all read them. I was lucky as a child, there was no limit on what we could read. If it was in the house anyone could read it. My dad believed that if it was too advanced for us we would lose interest in the book and put it back on the shelf. I think it probably worked. I never felt I had to finish a book that I wasn’t enjoying, but I never felt that any books were beyond me.
After generations of slaughter on its soil, Europe found peace and economic stability through the founding of the EU in 1957. In an idealistic, co-operative post-war world looking to the future, anything was possible. The writer Gael Elton Mayo covered England with Henri Cartier-Bresson, for Robert Capa’s brainchild, Generation X, which she describes in her autobiography, The Mad Mosaic, as “the name given to the unknown generation, those who were twenty after the war, and in the middle of a century. Capa wanted to choose a young man, and young girl, in each of twelve countries and five continents, examine their way of life, and find out what they were doing, thinking and hoping for the future.” (Holiday changed ‘Generation X’ to ‘Youth of the World’ when it was published; an abbreviated version also appeared in Picture Post in 1953.)
Half a century on, from the six founding members, the EU has enlarged to 27 member states, (with Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey in accession negotiations). Its impetus seems to be shifting as it morphs into an economic, political and cultural powerhouse. In the recent travel writing issue of Granta, Jeremy Treglown writes: “The British, with their mix of insularity and transatlanticism, can find it hard to grasp that so many continental Europeans, especially the young, are patriotic about being European.”